End Violence Against Women
It is estimated that 1 in 4 women in Wales will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime and every year in the UK, around one million women will experience domestic abuse (around 20,000 women a week).
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Ian Johnston, launched his Victims' Charter last year which outlines the minimum standard of service victims can expect when they are involved in the criminal justice process in Gwent. Mandy Wilmot, the Divisional Manager for Victim Support in Wales, believes the Charter provides a roadmap to ensure that victims' needs are addressed and that they get the appropriate standard of service they deserve.
"International Women's Day is a global celebration of women's achievements in all areas of life but it's also an opportunity for calls to end violence against women and girls," explains Mandy.
"It's vital that individuals and organisations use the opportunity to really highlight these issues, plus make women aware of what support is out there to help them make that first step and report abuse. Some of the most empowering stories that we will hear on this day are the survival stories of women who feel able to discuss their experiences of abuse. This may help some victims to see that it is possible get out of this situation and that there is support available."
The Police and Crime Commissioner's Victim's Charter is a big step forward in putting victims in general at the heart of the criminal justice system according to Mandy.
"It shows the commitment of the PCC and Gwent Police to getting it right for victims, providing a roadmap to ensure that victims' needs are addressed and that they get the appropriate standard of service," she says.
"The PCC can make a difference. He can ensure that there is a standard of service that all victims are entitled to and then build on that by potentially commissioning local specialist services that are appropriate to the particular needs that victims may have in Gwent. "
Although the situation has improved, many women are still scared to report abuse to the Police in Wales according to Mandy.
"I have been with Victim Support for over 20 years and there is still a high proportion that are too scared for many reasons," she says.
"We've moved on a long way since then and there have been many improvements in the Criminal Justice System, things like the Victims Charter and the Victim Code of Practice, but these need greater promotion. Telling someone is the hardest step and there needs to be more media campaigns about the service and support that people can expect if they do come forward."
Highlighting the reasons behind the launch of his Victim's Charter, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Ian Johnston, said: "As the Police and Crime Commissioner my priority is not only to reduce the number of victims of crime here in Gwent but also to protect victims from serious harm and ensure that improving the way services are delivered to them is at the heart of everything we do.
This is why I launched my Victims' Charter last year which outlines the minimum standards victims can expect when they are involved in the criminal justice process here in Gwent. Whether it's male or female victims of domestic abuse, I want to ensure a victim-centred focus to the services being delivered by Gwent Police and our other partners."
Wherever you are in Wales, Victim Support has a single number to call to speak to their Victim Care Unit. Just call 0845 612 1900. Offices are open 8am to 8pm.